By Thorsten Gorny
I am an Apple fan right from my earliest days back in the 1980s. That was the time when the world was introduced to the first Mac, and I as a 9 year old boy, was just stunned when I read about it in a computer magazine. Of course, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me the ‘real thing’ but one year later I could proudly lay my hands on an Atari ST – the “Jackintosh” – which I still love…
As soon as I could afford it, about 10 years later, I bought my first Apple. It was an Apple Performa 6200 and, in spite of the problems you had when you were using a Non-Windows computer back then, I was in heaven! It was my first “real” Apple. That was one year before “Steve” came back to Apple and one year before he started again to change the whole industry.
Apple revolutionized the way we look at technology
Since then much has happened. Apple revolutionized the way we buy and listen to Music, we buy and rent Movies, it has turned our mobile phones into our most loved and most personal devices, it makes tablets that people actually use – and of course still makes ordinary computers which are just plain beautiful. In short, it combined awesome great technology with awesome design embedded in an awesome ecosystem. All that together makes us now bonding with technology on an emotional level.
The best product line in history!?
This of course raises expectations on Apple in each of their events, of course purposely fueled by Apple with its “Apple speak”-like announcements like “The greatest product line in history of Apple”. But what was finally presented in Apple’s last event left me not only scratching my head but also wondering if Apple has just become another of these faceless and boring companies…
Before I share my personal views on that let me say I am not a professional tech blogger nor can I speak with, or read the mind of dead people (Steve Jobs) as many of these ‘Pros’ make you believe with their ‘Steve Jobs would do this or that’ – like articles. I am just an ordinary guy who loves technology when combined with great design and who has the luck to work in the Mobile App field – and of course, who admires Apple for its incredible ‘mojo’…so far.
iPhone 6 // Keeping up with the Joneses!
So coming back to yesterday`s event I will start with some words on the iPhone upgrade. It’s hard to make something great even better and hence except for a couple of nice improvements here and there I think nobody was really surprised with Apple’s upgrade of the iPhone. But is the iPhone really still so great??? What actually made me think (and I will get back to that a little later) is, I somehow feel the roles in the smartphone field have changed and I look at the new iPhone upgrade as nothing more than Apple’s intent to ‘keeping up with the Joneses’! All of the sudden we find Apple in a follower than in a leader position.
The decision to offer the iPhone in two sizes now, both considerably bigger and clearly following the trend that Samsung set, certainly is more a “Management decision” than a “Visionary” one and probably makes sense from that standpoint. But it really makes Apple look like coming a bit late to a party where most people are already leaving. What happened to sapphire glass, wireless charging (taken to the next level), 10x battery life etc.? There I would have expected Apple to add some of their ‘mojo’ to the mix. Instead none of this is there, hopefully it’s something for an iPhone 6s before Apple is completely left behind…
Apple Pay // Payments taken to the next level…
Apple Pay is definitely a big thing and here Apple definitely again played its well understood business development card to get something to the market with great partnerships on a broad front to quickly gain critical traction. No doubt, I definitely look at this as the ‘Big Thing’ here and I am convinced this will change the way we pay for stuff. And this is the reason why I am not worrying about Apple’s bottom line for the next couple of years. But really, is that something that “amazes” us – in the best meaning of the word – like the iPod or the iPhone did?
Apple Watch // A joke…I hope!
But now let’s come to the Apple Watch! The timepiece which is supposed to shake up or bring Switzerland in trouble, as Jony Ive is reported to have said in an even much bolder term.
Having this in mind I really still can’t believe what I saw unveiled. This product was the most and long awaited product from Apple for about two years now since Pebble’s breath taking Kickstarter campaign created a hype for that kind of a product. Soon after we saw “the Androids” bringing their “Smart watches” to the market with Samsung’s Gear (one year ago!) followed by LG, Asus etc. – and of course Motorola’s Moto 360. And everybody expected Apple to beat all, not necessarily in functionality (aka nerd department) but surely in design and aesthetics. And this is where I had major expectations as well. And this is where I feel Apple has FAILED big big time!
I have expected Apple again taking up all the concepts and half-cooked products out there on the market, shaking it, adding some of the Apple magic (Jony Ive) and taking the whole thing to a next level. But instead of that what did we see?
Apple Watch is essentially a prototype, not even a market ready product, just a prototype running a demo. Even though it is only a prototype, where you really can let your ideas fly, it is adding absolute ZERO – neither in functionality nor in design – to already existing products on the market. Design wise I feel it is actually more a B or C category product, essentially looking like my four year old iPod nano on a wristband. I have never thought I would see Samsung, ASUS or Motorola being able to come up with better design in that category than Apple – but I have been proven wrong!
And I am not focusing here on the fact that they were essentially showing a prototype. That was the same when Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone. The difference is, back then, they shook up the whole industry and market and revolutionized everything that was there before. This time they hardly get close to something that is ALREADY on the market – and this (again) with a PROTOTYPE!!!
Where is Apple’s ‘mojo’ here? Where is the love for innovation and the urge to reinvent? Where is the passion to take all this to a next level? And Apple, you really needed ONE YEAR longer than Samsung to come up with just a prototype for something that already exists with more or less same functionality but better design?
A great example to think a bit ‘out of the box’ with combining “wearables technology” with awesome design (without making the watch look like a toy for nerds) is actually Withings Activité. Something along these lines I would have expected from Apple…
I am 100% sure, Apple Watch neither frightens Switzerland at all nor does it ‘make me s*** in my pants’! We will see with what Apple is finally really coming up in ‘early 2015’. I still hope all this was a big prank played on us and Apple will ‘make me s*** in my pants’ in Spring next year. Then with a device that ‘deserves’ the Apple on it. If not, I think Apple’s time as the most innovative company is really up. Please Apple, prove me wrong…
[The “doesn’t make me s*** in my pants” phrase is a reference to Steve Job’s comment when the inventor of the Segway unveiled his invention in a meeting with Silicon Valley tech giants. As we all know, Karma is a bitch!]